The Scars of Easter
The Scars of Easter
He knows the wounds of humanity. His hands prove it.
Isaac Newton said, "In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God's existence
We use our hands for the most wonderful activities: art, music, writing, touching, even for communication.
Just as painters throughout history have attempted to visualize the face of Jesus Christ, I find myself lately when I look upon a newborn child trying to visualize his hands.
I imagine them through the various stages of his life. When God's Son entered the world in the form of a human body, what were his hands like?
I can hardly conceive of God taking on the form of an infant, but our faith declares that he once had the tiny, jerky hands of a newborn.
G. K. Chesterton expressed the paradox this way, 'The hands that had made the sun and stars were too small to reach the huge heads of the cattle." And too small to change his own clothes or put food in his mouth.
Like every baby, he had miniature fingernails and wrinkles around the knuckles, and soft skin that had never known abrasion or roughness. God's Son experienced what each of us has as an infant, helplessness, and the loving care of a mother.
Once I tried my hand as a carpenter, so I can easily imagine the adolescent hands of Jesus, who learned the trade in his father's shop. His skin must have developed many calluses and tender spots, just as mine had done, and still do at times, even now.
Then came the hands of Christ the physician. The Bible tells us strength flowed from them when he healed people.
He preferred to perform miracles not in great numbers or all at once, but rather one by one, touching each person as he healed them.
When Jesus touched eyes that had dried out, they suddenly admitted light and color again. Once, he was touched by a woman who suffered with a hemorrhage, knowing that by Jewish law she would make him unclean.
He touched those with leprosy—people no one else would touch. In small and personal ways, his hands set right what had been disrupted in Creation.
The most important scene in Jesus' life—the one we memorialize during Passion Week—also involved his hands.
Then those hands that had done so much good were taken, one at a time, and pierced through with a thick spike. My mind balks at visualizing it.
Can you imagine the damage the nail did as it sliced through one layer of tissue at a time, to expose the intricacies of nerves and blood vessels and tiny bones and tendons and muscles that are inside the hands and feet?
Roman executioners drove their spikes through the wrist, right through the carpal tunnel that houses finger-controlling tendons and the median nerve.
It is impossible to force a spike there without maiming the hand into a claw shape. And Jesus had no anesthetic as his hands were marred and destroyed.
Later, his weight hung from them, tearing more tissue, releasing more blood.
Has there ever been a more helpless image than that of the Son of God hanging paralyzed from a tree? The disciples, who had hoped he was the Messiah, cowered in the darkness or drifted away.
But that is not the last glimpse in the New Testament of Jesus' hands.
The same day that Mary Magdalene had seen Jesus, and had told the disciples;
|Joh 20:19||Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.|
|Joh 20:20||And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.|
Thomas was not with them that evening, and when they told him they had been with the Lord he did not believe. He had to see for himself, the nail scarred hands and Jesus’ wounded side.
|Joh 20:26||And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.|
He appeared again, in a closed room, just as one of his disciples was disputing the unlikely story he thought his friends had concocted.
We can just imagine what he was saying, people do not rise from the dead, they must have seen a ghost, or an illusion.
At that moment, Jesus appeared and held up those unmistakable hands. The scars gave proof that they belonged to him, the same one who had died on the cross.
Although the body had changed in certain ways, the scars remained. Jesus invited Thomas to come and trace them with his own fingers.
Thomas responded simply, in John 20:28, "My Lord and my God!"
Do you notice the significance of this statement?
At other times the disciples and others either said He was the Son of God or called Him the Son of God. They had not put the two together, Lord and God.
Peter in Matthew 16:16 in part when Jesus asked who they said He was…”Thou are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
The centurion who stood watch as Jesus hung from the cross, said,” Truly this man was the Son of God.” Mark 15:39
|Joh 1:49||Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.|
Martha, Lazarus’ sister,
|Joh 11:27||She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.|
Thomas responded simply, "My Lord and my God!"
It is the first recorded time that one of Jesus' disciples directly addressed him as God. Significantly the assertion came in response to Jesus wounds. Jesus' hands.
Throughout all of history, people of faith have clung to the belief that there is a God who understands the human dilemma. That the pains we endure on Earth are not meaningless, that our prayers are heard. In Passion, we focus on the supreme event when God demonstrated for all time that he knows our pain.
For a reminder of his time here, Jesus chose scars in each hand. That is why I believe God hears and understands our pain, and even absorbs it into himself—because he kept those scars as a lasting image of wounded humanity. He knows what life on earth is like, because he has been here. His hands prove it.
Thank you Jesus.
Praise the Lord.